Wednesday, 25 December 2013

Winter Is As Winter Was

A Pessimist Is Never Disappointed Sophie Ellis Bextor so enchantingly crooned on her pre-fame lost classic with Theaudience. Although, being the kind of gobshite I am, I preferred the French-sung b-side “Une Pessimiste N’Est Jamias Decu”.

I think I’ve only just really cottoned on to the truth within one of the top football clichés – its the sign of a good team to win without playing really well. I used to always semi-think ‘isnt it just putting off the inevitable though, if you keep playing badly, you wont win for long’. But that’s the opposite of the point, which I take to mean now; you’re always going to have a bad run of form, so if you don’t drop many points whilst going through that, you wont have lost ground by the time you get it back on track. After Boxing Day last year, we struggled and ended up only winning 2 out of 8 games, and of the six where points were dropped, four should have been wins on paper.

So, to have won the last two matches without clicking anything more than intermittently is massive. Given we have two winnable home games coming up, we need to put false modesty aside a bit and go all out for two wins – that would put us on 40 points halfway through the season, and feasibly if not likely, top spot – which would be an unbelievable effort really. 

I don’t think we will win the league, in fact, I’m not even sure if we’ll win against Sunderland on Boxing Day. Without ‘crying it in’ a lot of players have looked a little bit tired, slightly less than 100% in recent games and Martinez will be tempted to rotate a few for this match I think, given we are 24 points better-off than the opposition. We could see the likes of Stones and Naismith get a run out, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we struggled early on and maybe went a goal (or two) down before a rousing come-back. An enjoyable but missed chance 2-2 is one eventuality I think could transpire, but hopefully I’m being needlessly worrisome and, whatever line-up we go with, if we get the first goal here we should win with plenty to spare.

You would hope this is a good chance for Lukaku to get back on the score sheet after a few relatively insipid displays lately. He just doesn’t get into the game enough for my liking, and in the first half especially at Swansea failed to hold the ball up to the level required. As I’ve said before I think, I can see why Mourinho isn’t convinced. One thing that maybe isn’t helping him is the lack of competition given Jelavic’s bottoming-out. In pretty much every other area of the team the players Martinez has brought in have clearly kept players on edge knowing there are alternatives (and the fact that chances have often been taken: Ovideo, Osman when McCarthy was suspended v Fulham) but maybe the centre-forward is lacking that. Maybe though, he’s just had a dodgy couple of games and in a microcosm of the wider point, if his bad form coincides with two wins where he has at least contributed, then things could be far worse.

Last Season ~ Best When We’re Boldest

This was only just over twelve months ago this match, but seems much more remote than that by the manner in which we turned it round, with Fellaini & Jelavic being the undisputed ‘go to’ players to dig us out of a hole.
One has since obviously left and is apparently now out til February with a weird wrist/back in jury and the other is being talked about as being all packed up and just hanging on for the taxi to turn up to get him ‘away from here, anywhere but here!’ on 1st Jan. 

But when Sunderland, under Martin O’Neill came to town last, they were vital to turning round the perennially under-performing Adam Johnson’s decent finish fractionally before half-time. In a switch that proved he wasn’t entirely beholden to the negativity which has become has main epitaph, Moyes must have even shocked himself by taking off Phil Neville (amazingly really, still starting in midfield at this moment in time) and throwing Vellios upfront with Jelavic and dropping back Fellaini a tad. Within five minutes we were ahead, the defence dragged enough out of their set positions to leave enough space for Fellaini to score quite an atypical run forward and low, swept finish into the bottom corner. Seemingly immediately afterwards, a good build up ended with a deft/lucky outside of the boot flick by the goals corer took two defenders out of the game ran perfectly for Jelavic – to empathises just how of a different era this was, he was never going to miss at this point and tucked it away first-time. 

 To get my ‘duh, you big duffus’ quota in are Moyes, he then thought ‘best get back to what wasn’t working’, replaced Jelavic with an alternative undynamic 30+ immobile midfielder in Thomas Hitzslperger and we were a bit lucky to not concede a late sickener to one of the most horrid players in the league, Carlos Cuellar in the last minute as we needlessly dropped deep and made things hard for ourselves.

That She Wore For the First Time Today – Poyet! 

 Sunderland have managed to go to two such irksome characters in the time since that match that they’ve managed to give Martin O’Neill and his “oh, why meeeee! I have done everything correctly only to be thwarted by the fickle goddess of chance yet again!!” overwrought touchline dance when the opposition keeper makes a solid if unspectacular stop. I actually quite enjoyed his ‘last laugh’ press conference when he called Di Canio a managerial charlatan. The current boss man, Gus Poyet, at least managed to get through his first few days without being engulfed in a super-strength media furore. 
 In fact it actually seems like he should be a fairly sensible appointment, given that they seem very likely to go down and he has experience and knowledge of the Championship to do well next season. When you look at the bottom of the table (why would you though?) Sunderland are actually only 4 points away from getting out of the relegation zone, and if they won would go level on points with Fulham, who I don’t think will go down, but with the complete mismatch of a squad they’ve got, and having mustered 12 goals from 17 games, you wonder how they can not be planning for relegation.

Classic(s) ~Always Something There To Remind Me

In uber-negative mode, the 1996 match could be a harbinger of Everton fuck-ups past. Sunderland, who went on the be relegated, arrived at a sold-out and expectant Goodison with Everton flying high on the back of 6 wins in 7. Over-thinking selection (Ferguson dropped to the bench), over-confidence and a missed penalty combined in a totally unforeseen 1-3 reverse with a 45 year old Paul Bracewell man of the match and 11 year old Michael Bridges scoring the decisive goals. So when people say ‘bit cautious aren’t you, you could go top!’, this type of thing is why.

On the other hand, hopefully the game from Christmas 2008 will be more akin to what we get – a 3-0 stroll with 2 (yes fuck off dubious goals panel, 2, my records are what I go by, it was in the middle of the goals, how is that not on target??) from Arteta and a late tap-in from Dan Gosling. I remember saying to the owner of this site (The Vincent Tan of LOT) that I thought he was a better prospect than Rodwell at that time and that he could end up as a Frank Lampard-esque goal-getting centre midfield stalwart.

That would class as a bad call I think, and in fact the other sub from this match, in his only ever Everton appearance, Lukas Jutckiewz could even probably argue he’s made a better career for himself than Gosling.

McCabe And Mrs Miller ~ 1971

 A classy affair, you’d expect nothing else would you with Robert Altman directing, Leonard Cohen partially sountracking, and The Big Fella & Julie Christie in the lead roles. What the film aims for, and hits perfectly, above all else is to capture a mood and an atmosphere of the wintry ‘old west’. Beatty’s character McCabe begins as a small-time celebrity among a gaggle of bearded losers huddled around a card table in a wooden inn. The story quickly moves on to establish the fact that he is in the process of setting up his own town/settlement, although this consists mainly of ragged tents, mud, three unfortunates dragged along as prostitutes and his unshaped dreams.

Not long afterwards, his vision is added to be Christie’s Mrs Miller who arrives with a harem of ‘better class’ ladies for the townsfolk and understandable plans to create some kind of workable structure to the village – a bathhouse, saloon and café/inn are created and furnished in short-order and a handsome profit begins to be created after an uneasy business partnership is launched.

Not long afterwards, things turn irrevocably badly after McCabe ineptly tries to haggle with the representatives of speculators wishing to buy him out and take-on the community and land (which is rich in oil), and all concerned come to a cold, snow-swept, bleak end.

Although masterfully done in places, I personally thught there was a tiny bit too much emphasis on the overall vibe, and chances to develop subplots and minor characters were missed at the expense of this. The scenes where McCabe has to negotiate with the pseudo-lawyers Sears (played by Michael Murphy (Manhattan)) & Butter, and then his meetings with the fearsome 7” ‘negotiator-cum-assassin’ sent in their steed and city lawyer later on are fantastic – tense & funny at the same time – but come and go a bit quickly. For that I gave it a 3.5, but, as ever, other opinions are available, and I can see where people rating it higher are coming from :

Numb ~ 2007

 Its probably fair to say that this little movie where Matthew Perry struggles to come to terms with chronic depression will never be pawed over in the same way as the above, but depite being insubstantial I found it much better than expected. With the exception of the affront to all decency that is Serving Sara, I am low-level fan of Perry’s fairly infrequent film carrer and he is a better actor than given credit for.

The parts of this film that are allowed to bump along slowly and linger on his character’s self-loathing are strong and believable, but it is let down by the bits that try to be crude, lewd and amusing – having the writer from Deuce Bigalow and the abysmal Without A Paddle really doesn’t help in this regard.

The relationships (both the ‘love of his life’ and sudden fling with a psychiatrist) are nicely done and overall the story remain coherent all the way through. With my Perry-tinged glasses on, I like to think this could have been very entertaining if given a more serious screen write and a bit more time. It’s a ‘good 2’ though, based on what it actually is like, which you kind of have to take into consideration….

Exciting to see Perry on Newsnight last week by the way too, holding his won pretty well against an ostentatiously ostentatious Peter Hitchens. A step closer to fulfilling one of my most dearly longed for hopes in life; for him to appear on another BBC current-affairs programme. Imagine him presenting Have I Got News For You! It’d be absolutley immense.

The Shipping News ~ 2001

Re-watched this recently and found it far better than when I initially viewed it as part of my Kevin Spacey obsession, this time looking more at the film as a whole.

Firstly though, thank god he is in it. The rest of the cast read a bit like a roll-call of people who can either be very watchable or be in the most annoying films going, and quite a few of them are in more irksome mode here. According to IMDB John Travolta was initially down to play Quoyle, which one imagines would have taken this down a very different and less subtle route.

As it is, Spacey bangs on the weight to take the role of a pretty finished and emotionally spent single-father who re-locates to Newfoundland and gradually edges his self-esteem and life back on track with a new job (writing about boats for the local paper) and nicely played extra-tentative relationship with the local school teacher (Julianne Moore). There is a far greater supernatural undercurrent than I remembered, and some of this backfires in a quite amateur manner – the trope of a bearded, haunted looking long-lost relatively stalking the area and living in a secret cabin is an especially low-point. Judi Dench, after being praised here for Philomena, is at her worst here in parts, with a very shaky accent and an ‘indefatigable strong woman’ gimmick that wears thin very quickly (barring a couple of good scenes with Spacey).

Good points just about outweigh the bad though, and Spacey puts just enough in to help the calm, watery-blue, ‘lets all have a cup of tea’ ambience win through. You’d have to be a right misery to not enjoy and be made-up for his character in the scenes where he wins his editor over and ‘has off’ Pete Postlethwaite in their battles over his columns for the paper anyway. 2.5.

White Christmas ~ 1954

You have to love Woolton Picturehouse and its retro ambiance, which made this a thoroughly enjoyable experience (even if the obligatory interval here was less than ideal with a 2pm start time and a 4pm Everton kickoff….).It’d be a steadfastly rational rveiwer to not allow a bit more leeway to a film when seeing a special Chrsitams screening with their girlfriend in an atmospheric throwback cinema and to treat it the same as an 11am , day off work DVD viewing. 

 Even accounting for that genoristy I was a pleasantly taken with the film's coherence and the fact that there is, albeit loosley and failry lkacking in tension or jeaporday, a plot. More than I had previoulsy imagined anyway (I imagined its synposis was 'Peoiple stand outside and it snows. Hilarity ensues'). Even some of the dance numbers were watchable - although the "snooooooow" song where the four leads are on a train is an total clunker and interferes with a nicley building bit as the curmudgeeonly Bing Crosby begins to incrementally warm to the idea of getting into Rosemary Clooney.  

 The overarching narratives of enduring defference to military, good ol' America & camply rendered light entertainment  are just about kept in check, and the big tune near the end Love You Didnt Do Right By Me is terrific. Its another 2.5, but obviulsy that's weighted towards a festive viewing. 

Well, it dfeinitley doesn't look like there's going to be a repeat of the most annoying things ever when the Boxing Day game got called off in 2010, I've had a few advocaat's and the bit above written in work yesterday sounds a bit negative really - come on Everton, let's batter these. 

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

So Alive It Isn't Real

Before I start, I would like to reassure anyone in two minds whether to bother with reading this that I will not interrupt my 'coverage' at any point, regardless of the declaration of nuclear war, death or any other event no matter how seismic. The blog will go on.

Brains retrained by a 24 inch remote

What on earth was that about though? To recap, the BBC received 'over 850' ('more than 1,350' according to the ever keen Daily Mail: "The coverage was so over the top. You would have thought the Queen of England had died it was so all consuming") about cutting ten minutes off from a repeat of an episode of Mrs Brown's Boys to report the news that one of - by any assessment- one of the most significant figures of the last century had died. 

I'm not bothered about what programme it was they interrupted, so much as the total lack of perspective this is indicative of. How inured to actually thinking about anything do you have to be to not understand the basic principle that some things are bigger than others?

I remember being a bit peeved in 1995 when the BBC cut off from the cricket to announce that Douglas Hurd had resigned as Foreign Secretary. A far less monumental event, and I love watching the Test match - but there is a hierarchy of events that you figure out and accept.

Even more hope-sapping is the fact that it hasn't been laughed out of sight entirely. The Metro managed to slop some reassuringly grey gruel into the greyed-out dead brains of the grey masses on the grey omnibus that they were right to have been furious at the snooty BBC for tricking them into momentarily thinking "who's this guy? He isn't Irish!".

Ross McGuiness, who has previously penned such thought-provoking articles as 'Which Is The Best Meerkat Advert?', 'Should We Wear Sunglasses To Bed?', 'What's The Point Of PMQs?' and 'Star Wars Lego Sucking Girl Becomes YouTube Hit', backed the complainers:
"....the BBC have a channel called BBC News. If people want to know what’s going on in the world, they can watch that.Those watching Mrs Brown are within their rights to expect the entire show to be broadcast....The BBC can tell them about Mandela’s death ...on their news channel." 
'If people want to go what's going on in the world'.
What an amazing sentence. 'If'?!

Following through his argument, why ever show the news on BBC (or ITV, or 4) then? People can just go to the news channel! Would would happen if a war did break out? Would people just be expected to find out in their own time - and maybe think after a few big bangs outside

'Blimey, what's going on here then? Flick to News 24 for a min baybz..'
"Cant find the changer, shall we just leave it? Probably nothing"
'Yeah. Thinking about it, I don't even want to know what's going on in the world actually. Not going to affect us is it?' 

Making Me Shallow

There shouldn't on paper be many surer bets than Everton to win this weekend. In the Premier League our record at home to Fulham is P12, W12, F28 A 6. Fulham are struggling pretty horribly and we've just put together our best three consecutive performances for about six years. It's been a pleasure to see such positive, vibrant displays. Maybe the most eye-opening section of all three was the last ten minutes; against Stoke we kept going for more goals, at Utd we made it so there would only be one winner - and then at Arsenal got up and came back admirably after a bit of a sickener in conceding and (barring Giroud's superb effort) looked most likely to nick a fabulous match. 

This fixture has fallen at reasonable times for Fulham too at times - the game where Saha scored his first goal for us was in amidst a turgid spell of form, with a very prickly crowd and a line-up with no discernible pattern or shape. I vividly recall Arteta cocking up a quick freekick by playing the ball to Yakubu when he was about ten yards offside - the Yak then gormlessly played it anyway, the flag went up and there was a torrent of frustrated derision from the stands.

And we still won that.

Even by 'typical Everton' standards, it would be something of an anticlimax to drop anything in this one. I don't think we will, but I think it will be tougher than it might be supposed - 2-1 to the Mighty Blues.

Can I Borrow A Feeling? 

The only change to an XI that has surprised even the most optimistic of observers in the last two games by looking so effective and comfortable is that James McCarthy is suspended. That's a shame because he has been playing as well in centre-midfield for us as anyone since Arteta in early 2009 just before doing his knee at Newcastle. The signing from Wigan is nowhere near as classy or as much of a threat going forward, but for covering the pitch and dominating from the middle he's been immensely impressive so far.

So Leon Osman will probably come in - although Martinez must be very tempted to use McCarthy's absence as a way to get Gerard Deulofeu into the team, after 'amking an impact' so noticeably over the past week. The finish at Arsenal was in some ways quite simple, but not something that I could imagine any other player I've seen for Everton score bar Rooney.

It's been amusing to see the desperate attempt to find a negative aspect to the season so far which has been a spate of comments and stories about us being "Loaneverton".

The aforementioned Arteta, along with Pienaar and Howard from the current side, and Duncan Ferguson going further back, were all initially loan signings and it wasn't like they only began to earn points for us once we'd made the signings permanent. In all cases there was also negative briefing to the effect that we'd never be able to retain them.

The flip side is that if we had somehow signed Lukaku and Deulofeu (plus Barry), the crushing lack of imagination which makes up 99.9% of the received wisdom regurgitating vacuity that passes as football punditry would be saying "they're off at the end of the season anyway"(for the record, I think at least two of the three will very likely be playing for Everton next season, and the better we do can only enhance the chances of any/all of them staying).

So, can you really do anything other than just enjoy players whilst you've got them? After Rooney's historic first goal the media rushed to say he'd not long be around,and any realistic fan knew that was a possibility too - did it undermine the moment when he scored at Leeds a few weeks later? Did Liverpool fans think during Suarez's extraordinary display last week 'I should be enjoying this, but i cant shake it out of my head that Madrid might come back in soon - he wont be ours forever y'know?'.

No they did not - and if they did they're miserable gobshites who shouldn't even bother watching what is an essentially 'of the moment' sport.

Life Is Beautiful

Having said that, some games do carry the weight of more than just 90 minutes and lets see who wins. As you'd expect from the head-to-head stats mentioned earlier, on the whole these have been pretty enjoyable matches in the main, but the most memorable and most significant is without question Moyes' first match in charge.

In complete contrast to what Martinez said before the Utd game about preferring a good, stylish display to a sneaky 1-0 win (its an indication of how well things are falling for him right now that he got a combination of both) - this just had to be won, with any aesthetic considerations shunned entirely.

Whereas we can pick two out of Deulofeu, Pienaar or Mirallas for the wide roles on Saturday, the "wingers" in this game were Lee Carsley and David Unsworth. Whatever criticism there is of David Moyes (and I have/had more than most) you cant lose sight of the fact that in the 'long view' he made an enormous amount of progress. The squad we had assembled by this point (March 2002) was stagnant, totally unfit, incoherent and de-motivated.

And so frightfully incompetent had recent tactics/performances been, we were underachieving even from that level of expectation.

So, to the chagrin of a frankly incredible 72% in a Echo poll who disagreed at the time, Walter Smith was removed and in came Moyes from Preston, everyone was 'taken out' from shambles at Middlesbrough and a limited but at least vaguely comprehendable line-up was sent out to a wet, grim, muddy Goodison which hadn't seen a goal from open play in its last four games.

If any goals have ever been scored purely by fervent, logic-defying zealotry from the stands then it was these two; after 27 seconds Unsworth blammed one in from the corner of the area and a few minutes later Ferguson chased down a backpass, charged down Van Der Saar's clearance then outpaced him to slot in.

The lack of conditioning in the squad was then laid bare: we were knackered after 25 minutes. Gravesen got sent off and the second period was played I would guess 96% in our defensive half. And one of the brief parts that wasn't only occurred because David Weir curled a pass deliberately, cynically but effectively right towards their corner flag along the ground so it held up on the grimy pitch and gave everyone a couple of seconds breather. Barry Hayles got one back and the pattern of play intensified. The phrase 'backs to the wall' is often used, but from what I remember we ended up playing a sort of 8-1-0 formation with Joe Max Moore(!) as the furthest man forward.

But we hung on, and things got better. 

Berby Can I Hold You Tonight

If Martinez is wondering what he could do in January to improve the squad and give us that extra dimension to finish as high as possible then surely he will have raised an intereted eyebrow when that paragon of reliability the Gossip Column reported that the me-proclaimed best player in the world Dimitar Berbatov is frustrated at 'the Cottage' and would like a move.

This is the moment. He's 32, so, even though it will be amazing to watch him in a few years when he slows down and plays in a more peripheral way, here is the last realistic moment for Everton do something purely to indulge me. It wouldn't make a whole lot of sense, but if (as seems sadly likely) Jelavic is going to go, and someone like West Ham pay us decent money for him, we are going to be short of options upfront.

We have struggled at times to break down ordinary defences (0-0s v Cardiff, Palace & West Brom), he would surely be as close-to-motivated as he's ever going to be by trying to get in the Champions League, possibly over two of his former teams and would be a great influence for Barkley and the other young players. It could hardly be a bad thing to add someone who even as curmudgeonly figure as Alan Hansen admitted on MOTD2 is "in the top three players for pure technical ability in the history of the Premier League...maybe even number one".

Of course, he followed that up with a fairly blistering attack on his 'attitude', which isn't really the right word for me - does running round to no end show a good attitude necessarily?

Hansen said his effort etc was 'absolutley shocking...embarrassing...a disgrace' and implied it got Jol fired.
You'd never get such unhedged criticism in reverse.No pundit would ever be so frank as to say about a limited but trying player "his workrate is good, but his touch, vision and composure are an utter consistently miss-controlling and giving the ball away, he's contributed to getting the manger sacked" even though they're deficiencies just as likely to lead to bad results.

As well as all that, he's also starting to show a lovable wacky side, with his cartoons of Snoop, uploading photos of him brandishing his kid in the sky and crazily patriotic delight in Bulgarian athletes success in even the most junior and obscure competitions

Also: This.How can anyone see that and not fancy a bit of it?  So come on. 
Just for the hell of itSign him, make him captain, put him on everything - you know it makes sense.

 Please, please, please.....

Friday, 6 December 2013

The Perfect Blend

Start Me Up

Hi! I'm going to do that bit like Jack Dee does on one of them 'Laugh Shop' shows: come out, do a little bit of easy warm up banter to get the crowd going, hand over to one of them young Russell comics for the main bit, then come back out at the end, say they were great and try and finish on a decent note.

So....... that Autumn Statement eh?

"Ar ay, you've gotta feel for the lad - he's got a shite name, a shite face and no idea what he's meant to be doing most of the time"
That's just something I overheard two workies saying on my way out of work today.
"Ye wha?! Me be arsed?! I should be arsed - ha! She's a cow so i'm not arsed y'know. Til she stops being a cow I wont stop being not arsed about her & her shitty little washer dryer"
That was a girl on the phone on the bus home. 

Anyone see this story form last week about that screffy no-mark Michael Chopra gambling....or something? Not at all interesting but it went to a court case and it revealed that his dad's name is Minty. Minty Chopra!

I found that hilarious, but it was subsequently pointed out to me that he is of Indian descent and that Minty in fact isn't that unusual in being used as a diminutive name in some cultures - that photo above is author Minty Tejpal apparently- not as I thought TV's Tony Robinson going to a WWE-themed fancy dress party as Nailz - so its not that funny, and could even be a bit racist.....

Follow that!
Interesting mix


Back in the summer of 2006, I found myself unemployed, as did one of my very best friends. Owing to economic circumstances married to a spectacular inability to decide what we were going to do with ourselves post-school (ongoing…), I used to trek (and by ‘trek’ I mean get the 60 a few stops) to Graeme Hall’s house nearly every day - and we’d lock ourselves away in Graeme’s small bedroom and talk and ponder and watch films and that was all very interesting, but there were three main things we did:

Play on ‘Soccer Life’, which is a terrible game which we somehow made into the greatest piece of theatre possible; affairs, houses, modelling careers and irregular substitute appearances for Deportivo were just some of the dizzying highs and terrifying lows we went through. Together.

We also fell into that despairingly clichéd trap of watching ‘Neighbours’ twice a day. The show has had many ups and downs in it’s inplausibly long run, but for me, 2006-07 was surely its peak, being at the same time both saucy and ludicrous. Paul Robinson was on top form as heel and a few racy storylines got the pulses racing. 

The Lads

Indeed, I remember being furious at having to go back to my previous work mid-summer to help a “Sports Week” in Calderstones, which meant I barely caught one episode a day, if that. Fury that nearly boiled into, erm, anger (is that worse?) when it was gloatingly revealed that I had missed several ultra-light lesbian sessions between Pepper and the other one.

The Lads

And we also slipped into the habit of listening to Orville “Shaggy” Burell’s seminal pop-reggae crossover album ‘Hot Shot’. Lots. Like, too much.Perhaps it was the attempt to find middle ground between mine and Graeme’s fairly similarish music tastes (especially at that time) or the need for something not-too-weighty to distract us from Australian soap n' soft-core and being virtual soccer superstars, but either way we all enjoyed it, and made a pact that, if we ever got a sniff of the chance, we’d HAVE to go and see the Great Man himself live. But he never really came close to touching British soil….

Comfortably topping this bill

Fortunately, circumstances provided me with the chance this weekend. One circumstance is me being here in Edmonton. The other is Shaggy’s presumably dire financial straits, that have sent him out to perform club gigs wherever will take him. “If only I’d saved some of ‘Feel The Rush’ fee UEFA paid me”, he’ll be thinking. So, braving the snowy conditions, we (me and ‘me bird’; didn’t go on me bill, did I?) arrived at The Union Hall Bar with a mixture of excitement and trepidation; if he nails it, it’ll be great, but if he’s shit, then I will be saddened and his memory will be forever sullied. UH is basically The Kazimier with Krazyhouse décor; a good lickle venue, from what I could tell. And perfectly sized for The Shagster and his posse; 65% of whom were dreadlocked; bare reggae lads not afraid of stereotyping themselves, which is nice to see.

Clearly happened

We had to wait for him though. Firstly, we had a white rap duo. Sounds bad? They were. Awful. Terrible. The Worst. Honestly, they were horrible to watch; I don’t think they were supposed to be a parody, but with lines like “I pull my fucking gun out cos I just don’t give a fuck”, that is what they seemed like. If they were, they didn’t let the audience in on the joke, so either way, comedy or not, the crowd were just left bemused. We needed someone to come and pick us up. A big, big name is all that would do for the restless, bevied up masses. A genuine star was needed…

"Rayvon has chosen to broaden his musical landscape with the addition of hip hop and roots reggae to his already proven smooth Dancehall/R & B sounds on the forthcoming (untitled) CD"

Did I mention that Rayvon was supporting? Well he was, and he was here to save us. I say that in jest, but he was actually okay, as a crowd warmer and in his own right. Look up “Story Of My Life” if you don’t believe me.

It Wasn't Murali

Then, at 12.44am, Shaggy himself took to the stage. For us Brits, that’s quite late isn’t it? But having been to a couple of late-night gigs over here, I might say that it’s better, in a way. By finishing at about 2.30am, you know where you stand. If this happened in Manchester, we’d all be sound, as we’d make plans to stay out/get a hotel or something. As it stands, gig-going has forever been fraught with the feeling that, “yeah, this is boss, but can you wrap it up soon lads? I’ve got to leg it down Oxford Road for the last train home in a minute. And I wanna get a Fanta and some of those Jaffa Cake Bars for the journey too, so if you’d just do the one-song encore that’d be sound. Cheers Marshall lad, nice one”. Certainly, for this type of ‘fun’ gig, it works better for the atmosphere too. With people bevvied and gagging for a song that they knew, Shaggy couldn’t fail.

Eve kicking it in Kenya with Shaggy

He did all the hits and some songs that (only) I knew from Hot Shot and some vaguely familiar latter-day singles; who could forget the feminist anthem ‘Strength Of A Woman’? Or not like the towering, life affirming ‘Hope’? Obviously, the biggest pops were reserved for ‘Boombastic’, ‘Carolina’ and the mega, mega hits. He was joined for ‘Angel’ by, shockingly, Rayvon, and the Rayvonster stayed on and paid his dues for ‘It Wasn’t Me’ too. As if seeing this slab of musical genius live wasn’t enough, we were also treated to it being made into a sort of mini-play; extra conversations between verses, maximum audience involvement, and some fine, fine interplay that led us into the “gonna tell her that I’m sorry” part. He even said Edmonton (“wooohhh”) is the best party town he’s ever been too, and that Edmonton (“fuck yeah!!”) has the sexiest ladies he’s ever seen. Which was either true, and a remarkable achievement for this humble Canadian outpost, or he was just saying that to get the crowd excited. Either way though; what a showman.

"Oooh i wonder who the affair will be!?"

And that’s about it. This review has been quite sarky, but he was honestly good at what he was doing, it’d be disastrous if he took himself seriously, so to seem him pretty much nail the novelty fun-time shtick we all hoped for was great. If he ever comes near you, go see him. Cheers. I’m off to research that Neighbours ‘06 era again. Elle was fit, wasn’t she? That twin storyline killed it a bit. Remember Mishka? Garbage, her….


I actually don't remember Mishksa to be honest. Around that period I was living in France and very earnestly admiring, among other things, the gloom-indie musical stylings of Birmingham's Editors. Perhaps the amazing thing is that I was not at all the only person doing that. When you look at the charts now, and the way music is consumed in general, the idea of sitting round having debates over which of the two separate CDs of alternating B-sides by this very serious little band seems ridiculously anachronistic. Mind you, at the same time I was also involved in a cross-Channel epistolary debate with my current co-author about whether Kate Jackson (exactly) had nice elbows or not.

More like Edith Woe-man & the erm...Wanted

I've (inevitably) not follwed their later career with anything like that enthusiasm (not helped by the inteelectaully bereft idea that no band where the singer went out with Edith Bowman could possibly be cool) so wasnt quite sure what this gig would have in store, excpet looking forward to a nice night out with the lovely Ctaherine (who bought the tickets for my birthday).

"Of legal drinking age, on minimum wage?
Well, welcome in"

The first pleasant surprise was the support act, British Sea Power, who I would happily go to see in their own right. I think the worked much better as a support band than when I saw them in the same role for Manics in 2010. They rattled through a really buoyant set ('Waving Flags' was probably the stand out) and the could-be gimmicky addition of two huge dancing bears worked really well. I definitely wouldn't have said that in 2006/07, but the contrast a bit fun provided before the main act was very well judged.

As Editors were a complete revelation - they found an atmosphere that suited them perfectly, with a strut and, dare I say it, even sexiness that I'd never associated with them before. At times they almost fell into a good end of Emo category, they were so intense, loud and unashamedly, well, emotional. From the first song, Sugar, which i'd never haerd before, I thought 'oh, this is going to be excellent', after that they went into 'Someone Says' (a minimalist remix of which was on one of the "Ales Tapes") and throughout mixed the old classics with really impressive newer stuff.

In fact, literally the only two tracks I wasn't that into were ones that Cat said she enjoyed, so they covered all bases. If I was doubly deluded enough to think anyone would i) read this far ii) listen to my music recommendations, i would say check out: 'A Ton Of Love' for it being the most blatant Echo & The Bunnymen lift I've ever heard but still being great, 'Eat Raw Meat = Blood Drool', for having the worst title for such a brilliant song, 'All Sparks' because its the one off the first album that sounded especially good revamped, and 'Papillon' because its an absolute banger and was a fantastic end to the best set I've seen live by a band for years.

That'll Be A Good Bit For At The End

The Lads

So, I was in CeX this evening - I was looking for a cheap copy of About Schmidt or Election, they didnt have either - and there were a gormless looking couple of troglodytes browsing not far away. 

The guy picked up the DVD for Inviticus and suggested to her:
"Oh, I heard he died didn't he? So this might be good"  (logic!)
 And she replied:
"Who, Matt Damon?!"
Fucks Sake.